Our first reader question of 2023 comes to us from Spencer who is relatively new to flight simulation. He’s asking a fairly common question regarding whether he should invest in a set of rudder pedals. Before I get to my answer/opinion, first allow me to tell a story. Way back in the early days of my own flight simulation experience, I spent a ton of time in the sim with only an inexpensive joystick. At some time in either the very late 90’s or perhaps early 2000’s, I purchased my first yoke. It was the CH Products Flight Sim Yoke and incredibly I still use it today. Yes, it’s held together quite well and has saw me through many generations of flight sim platforms including FS9, FSX, P3D versions 2 – 5 and now MSFS. It’s at least 23 years old (could be as much as 24-25) and with the exception of needing to adjust my null zones a little higher due to it being less sensitive in its old age, it still works really well. I subscribe to the theory that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it or in this case, don’t replace it.
Now back to that inexpensive joystick I used over a quarter century ago. Like I said, it was cheap…but it worked and while it didn’t include a “twisting action” to control the rudder, I just simply used the “auto-rudder” settings in the sim to get around this. Of course, when I upgraded to the CH Products Yoke I still had to continue to use the “auto-rudder” settings inside the sim as I had no additional control over the rudder action.
Within a few weeks of adding the yoke, I then purchased my first set of rudder pedals. Way back in the early 2000’s we really didn’t have a huge selection of add-on hardware like we do today. I paired the CH Products Yoke with a set of CH Products rudder pedals and of course turned off the “auto rudder” feature. I couldn’t believe how much this pairing improved my flight simulation experience. To this day, I still use this same combination of hardware. However, my first set of pedals stopped working after about 5 years and I replaced with the same.
So to get back on track, even if you currently use a joystick with a “twisting action” to control the rudder function of the aircraft, I truly believe your overall experience and certainly your immersion will be greatly increased by adding a set of rudder pedals to your flight sim setup.
As for recommendations, I’ve read a lot of really great reviews on the Thrustmaster TPR Pendular Rudder Pedals, but these require a pretty hefty investment of about $600.00. The lesser quality version of the Thrustmaster TFRP Rudder Pedals are around $130.00. Another higher end model that is also a favorite among fellow flight simmers is the Honeycomb Charlie Pedals. These sell for $349.00, but are sold out at the present time from the manufacturer.
For me personally, when/if my CH Products pedals finally stop working I will most likely replace them with something in the $130 – $200 range unless I can get a good deal on the TM TPR pedals I mentioned earlier.
Bottom line and to close this out, I believe rudder pedals are a must have for any flight simulation enthusiast. I really don’t believe I could, nor would want to fly without them.
Until next time…